Review: ‘In the Afterlight’ by Alexandra Bracken

Review: ‘In the Afterlight’ by Alexandra BrackenIn the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #3
Genres: Action & Adventure, Young Adult
Published by Disney Electronic Content on October 28th 2014
Format: Hardcover
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Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

This is one of my most favorite series, so it’s gonna be pretty hard to hold back while reviewing it!

Also, seeing as it’s the end of the series, I can’t guarantee that I won’t be revealing spoilers from the first two books. But I will be making any spoilers for this last book visible only when clicked on.

Where do I start? Heck, where do you ever start when you come to the conclusion of a series you love so much?

Welp, that’s it. I suppose I’ll start with an open love letter to a series I love so dearly.

Dear Darkest Minds Series (Cc: Alexandra Bracken),

How do I even describe why I love this series so much? It’s no simple thing.

Once, I was asked by a stranger on a flight while I was reading Never Fade if I liked the book and why, and what it was all about. I responded with an “Of course!,” and launched into an explanation of the plot.“Well, you see, there’s this disease that sweeps across the country and kills a bunch of kids, and the ones who survive have these powers to do different things, but the government rounds them up and puts them in these concentration camps…”

I think he was trying to follow along, but he looked a little lost. Even I was a little lost. Why was it so hard to articulate how I felt about one of my favorite series? 

Listing the plot details just didn’t seem to cut it, and hearing the bare bones of the story myself made it blur into the mass of other dystopian books I’d read (that’s not to say that the books aren’t unique — just described in so little detail, they become a little difficult to distinguish.) I was at once frustrated and angry with myself.

But it came to me, some time after. It is the CHARACTERS that make this series, and I became attached to every single one of them. (WARNING: Every. Single. One of them. Prepare and fortify yourself accordingly, as any misfortune that befalls the characters will knock you breathless.) Strong-headed and fiercely loyal Vida, fumbling but protective Chubs, quiet yet strong little Zu, well-intentioned, innocent, and caring Jude… they all earned their places in my heart and deserve more than a few words, but otherwise I would be writing all day.

And how can I not mention Ruby, our fearless heroine? But really, fearless isn’t the right word. Ruby isn’t fearless — she feels fear, and a lot of it sometimes. She’s been through a lot, and she’s made of some pretty tough stuff. But the reader is allowed the exquisite intimacy of hearing Ruby’s deepest thoughts and concerns. We know just how much she struggles — with herself, with trusting others, and with the things she’s done and the things she has to do. She’s not made of Kevlar. She can get hurt, and she’s been damaged on more than one occasion, but by leaning on her friends — no, her family — she survives. (Literally — there’s much carrying, dragging, and supporting to be had.) She’s one of my all-time favorite heroines/MC’s.

And Liam… LIAM. This boy. Words fail me. This blue-eyed, light-haired, leather-jacket-wearing, sweet-talking, Southern angel must only have fallen from heaven. He restores faith in humanity in a society that has been ravaged first by disease, but then by doubt, fear, and selfishness. Liam is Ruby’s rock; time and time again their relationship and his support of her have been severely tested, but, no matter how long it takes, they both always survive intact. Each person would be on the verge of falling apart without the other, but together they are Kevlar.

To top it off, I present the sheer perfection that is Alexandra Bracken’s writing. The beauty that she captures, and the darkness as well, is beyond compare. Everything she writes hits hard, and refuses to let go. Her character development is on-point, and her pacing and action-packed scenes leave me breathless. Even her descriptive, between-scenes writing — ya know, the stuff my eyes tend to skip over sometimes in other books — shines, perhaps most brilliantly. It makes me want to create a scrapbook of sorts to collect all my favorite quotes, though I might just have to settle for a Pinterest board.

And there you have it: the explanation of my love for this series. It might be over, but I know I’ll come back to read these books again, even though I’m not the biggest re-reader around. Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu… theirs is a story I will carry with me, its words ingrained in my mind. 

“They’d never fade, even in the afterlight of all this.”

Love, Lina :)xx

With all these feelings off my chest, I can finally add a few short notes on the final book itself.

While there’s nothing I love more than a big book, In the Afterlight weighed in at a little more than 500 pages, and I felt that the beginning of the book was a bit too long and slow. I know Ruby needed time to grieve View Spoiler » and the group needed time to train and form battle plans, but I was honestly a little bored at parts. Then again, maybe it was because I was reading this section in short bursts over a long period of time, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me (Finals.).

But when the pace picked up, it took off running and never stopped. Then, of course, there was that one scene where my heart almost stopped and I was breaking out in a cold sweat. View Spoiler » Let’s just say it was one crazy ride.

And here’s another big long spoiler that’s not incredibly spoiler-y, but has to do with how the the book/series wrapped up: View Spoiler »

Are you a fan of The Darkest Minds series? What do you love about the books? How do you think the f inal book stacks up?